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When there are may topics within a subject like construction or environmental construction its convienient to break them down into smaller packages and to label them and then organise them into some logical order.

Classification is one name for this process

Over the decades many different parties looking at information from different perspectives have classified in different ways.

More recently attempts have been made to bring these classification systems together.

Prompted by the NEDO report on Quality of Building Sites (1976?) and a desire to improve coordination and reduce Quality Related Events (QRE) Common Arrangement of Work Sections CAWS 1987 was an attempt to bring Quantity Surveyors and Architects closer together to merge Bill of Quantities (BofQs) classification with Specification classification to produce Common Arrangement of Work Sections which could be used in both BofQs and specifications and enable simplified cross referencing. CAWS was even adopted in some information libraries.

Uniclass 1997 was the next attempt to merge systems and fill gaps; it acheived a concatonation of existing classification systems into a single volume, but also changed some of the existing codes in the process. This left Architects having to decide wether to drop CI/SfB 1976-1991 or follow BS 1192 classification for drawing numbeing and CAD layering.

Life Cycle Assessment championed by BRE adopted an elemental approach, which was at odds with specifications.
In 2008 MyGreenSpec later renamed GreenSpecSTUDIO adopted the elemental approach in its design and specification tool (disappeared in 2014), these continue in NGS BEACON & NGS BEST
NBS developed CAWS 2012 to switch from trade based specification to elemental assembly specification;

Most recently driven by UK Government's desire to adopt BIM Building Information Modelling to improve efficiency by improved coordination between all parties of the construction industry is Uniclass (2012 and still evolving) which is being developed to work though all stages of the evolution of a building or other entity, to ensure continuity and avoid battens being dropped at any stage of the process from commissioning to end of life and even second life.

BIM will also extend into the world of facilities management and Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) and Construction Operation Building information exchange (COBie) have developed to enable this transition.



History of classification on ICIS 

SfB started it all off

CI/SfB adopted and modified SfB

CAWS & CPI 1987


  • BSS British Standards Society
  • Moribund in 2009 no evidence on internet 2014


ISO 12006:    :Building construction. Organization of information about construction works.
ISO 12006-2:2001:Building construction. Organization of information about construction works. Framework for classification
  • draft updated standard is now freely available for viewing and comment before it is finalised. 
  • It will be on the BSI drafts website at until 16th March.
  • This part of ISO 12006 defines a framework and a set of recommended table titles supported by definitions, but not the detailed content of these tables. It is intended for use by organizations which develop and publish classification systems and tables on a national or regional basis.
  • This part of ISO 12006 applies to the complete life cycle of construction works, including design, production, maintenance and demolition, and to both building and civil engineering.
  • It identifies classes for the organization of information and indicates how these classes are related.
  • This part of ISO 12006 lists the tables which are recommended to be developed and used to classify the members of each class according to particular views or principles of specialization and gives examples of entries which might occur in these tables.
  • It does not provide a complete operational classification system. 
  • Classification tables may vary in detail to suit local needs.

Uniclass in Infrastructure


Industry Foundation Classes (IFC)
Construction Operation Building information exchange (COBie)


Alpha-Numeric, Numeric-Alpha

Mapping between classifications

© NGS BrainSpecMan aka Brian Murphy
30th January 2014 - 11th August 2014


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1359: CSI <> CAWS (1999) (F)

© NGS BrainSpecMan aka Brian Murphy
30th January 2014 - 11th August 2014

See Also: 


  • NGS CLASSIFY: Classification of technical literature


Abbreviations, Initials, Acronyms
Words & Phrases




© NGS GBE BrainSpecMan aka Brian Murphy
30th January 2014 - 9th March 2015